George Russell in Hong Kong
New Zealand reported another 15 cases of coronavirus at the weekend, including 13 linked to the Auckland cluster that prompted tighter restrictions in the country’s largest city to be enforced from Monday.
Genomic evidence suggested the cluster originated in the AmeriCold frozen food facility, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said.
She said the new Auckland cases came from contacts “right at the beginning of the outbreak”, adding: “The tail of this cluster will be long.”
She said that while New Zealand as a whole remains at a relatively relaxed level2, Auckland from Monday would be at a form of level 2 that Ms Arden said “I will call level 2.5”.
Social gatherings in the city are limited to 10 people. “Much of this cluster has stemmed from social gatherings and we have to stop socialising for a time,” the prime minister said.
Jacinda Ardern shows how to make an improvised mask in a Facebook video
Exemptions would be considered for funerals and tangihanga, the Maori death rites, she said.
Face masks would be mandatory on Auckland public transit for all people 12 years or older. “I will not rule out mandating their [wider] use if we see people not using them,” Ms Ardern said.
Director of public health Caroline McElnay said on Sunday there were 136 active cases in New Zealand, of which 20 were imported.
Health officials reported two new cases on Sunday after announcing 13 on Saturday.
Both Sunday’s and 11 of Saturday’s cases were linked to the Auckland cluster, including six to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Church sub-cluster.
The two other cases were linked to an Air India flight from Delhi that arrived in Auckland on August 23, making a total of nine from that aircraft.